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WeGov

Mob Rule, Vigilante Behavior and Blasphemy in Pakistan's Digital Age

BY Nighat Dad | Wednesday, November 26 2014

London's Pakistani community protests Pakistan's blasphemy law (helen.2006/flickr)

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan are considered a norm these days. However, the latest incident of a mob beating to death a Christian couple is the most gruesome manifestation of this sensitive issue. The couple in Punjab was alleged to have desecrated a copy of the Qur’an. The mob attacked the couple, killed them, and later burnt their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked. The blasphemy law presents a frightening level of vigilante violence where prison and private guards, neighbors and colleagues turn into mobs killing those accused of blasphemy. Unfortunately, this mob behavior is being strengthened by the increasing adoption of technology in the country like mobile phones and the internet.

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WeGov

92% of Pakistanis Encounter Online Hate Speech, Survey Finds

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 9 2014

Malala Yousafzai meets with President Obama (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

In 2012, just after then 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by masked Taliban gunmen, the Pakistani cyberspace was briefly united—as pro-women and pro-education—but not for long. Soon a counter-narrative emerged, depicting Yousafzai as a pawn of the United States, or even a willing operative, and obscured the facts of her attack. Even a journalist who claims to support Yousafzai's cause, the universal right to education, has dismissed her as a “good native” that the West is using to act out their “savior complex,” which one could argue illustrates the “warped mindset” that the pro-Taliban narrative has spread amongst Pakistanis, and the potential real-world effects of hate speech.

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WeGov

Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

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WeGov

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 17 2014

Screenshot of the tax directory. Those empty spaces mean no taxes were paid.

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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WeGov

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 10 2014

Screenshot of Anusha Rehman's profile at www.na.gov.pk

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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First POST: USAID's Exploding Cigar

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 7 2014

Why ZunZeneo, the "Cuban Twitter" funded by USAID, was such a bad idea; some hard questions about the Comcast-TimeWarner merger; tech's "man problem"; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

The Fingerprints of a Drone Strike

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, March 19 2014

A woman works with a forensic architect in recreating the scene of a drone strike in Waziristan (Forensic Architecture)

A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths. Read More

WeGov

Newest Twist in Pakistan YouTube Ban Case Comes From…California

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 27 2014

Blocked! (Wikipedia)

On February 26, a U.S. federal appeals court ordered Google Inc to remove the film “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube for copyright violations. The film sparked protests throughout the Middle East after it was released in September 2012, and demonstrations in parts of Pakistan turned violent. Pakistan's Prime Minister ordered YouTube to be blocked, ostensibly to prevent any further violence as a result of “Innocence of Muslims.” The Pakistani Internet rights organization Bytes For All has challenged the YouTube ban in court, and now that Google has been ordered to remove the film from YouTube, point out that there is now no reason to keep the site blocked.

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WeGov

Digital Platform Empowers Women Within Pakistan's Patriarchal System

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Barriers to the workforce for women in Pakistan have compelled them to get creative (Leo Reynolds/Flickr)

In Pakistan, where many women are discourage from working outside of the home, technology has opened up different avenues through which women can enter the workforce. One start-up called the Women's Digital League is helping to facilitate this shift and to get more women working.

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WeGov

Defenders of YouTube in Pakistan Take On Brits Over Unlawful Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 9 2014

The human rights organization that challenged Pakistan's YouTube ban in court is taking on the British government over their surveillance program Tempora. On Thursday, Bytes for All (B4A) lodged a lawsuit with the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, alleging that the surveillance of communications violates the organization's rights under European law. The B4A suit builds on a previous one by UK-based Privacy International.

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